Belfast Telegraph

Shankill bomb bereaved in 'painful but necessary' remembrance 25 years on

By Brett Campbell

An exhibition depicting the horror of the Shankill bomb has brought back "painful but necessary" memories for the relatives of those who died in the IRA atrocity 25 years ago.

Artefacts and memorabilia were displayed in Shankill Methodist Church yesterday, including hundreds of sympathy messages left at the scene and toys belonging to a young child who was among nine innocents murdered on October 23, 1993.

Rev Colin Duncan opened the "place of remembrance" by praying for those whose lives were shattered by the attack, before reading out the names of the victims of the bomb that exploded in Frizzell's fish shop.

He said he hoped the painful reminders would bring "healing" to those who have "known the trauma of terrorism".

Their scars were reflected in photographs which captured the unbearable grief on the faces of the bereaved and served as a vivid reminder of the destruction unleashed that sunny Saturday afternoon.

Diane Morrison (55), who lost her brother Michael Morrison in the blast that ripped through the packed shop, described the importance of remembering the atrocity.

"It's so painful, but necessary in order to stop it ever happening again," she said. "The hurt has never gone away after all these years."

Her brother was 27 when he was killed.

His partner Evelyn Baird (27) and her daughter Michelle (7) also perished.

Ms Morrison found comfort in seeing the painter and decorator's Albert Foundry football strip and boxing kit in the exhibition, which bear testimony to the passion he had for sport and for reaching out to others.

It was something he had in common with his father James, who died as a result of surgery complications just three days before the bomb.

"Michael was a good brother, but above all he was a family man who loved life," his heartbroken sister said.

Pieces of debris, including a shovel that had been used to dig out bodies and unearth survivors, also served as a reminder of the scale of the carnage.

"People remember exactly where they were and what they were wearing that day," Ms Morrison said.

"We were told the pub had been bombed and I never thought that any of my family would be in the pub. Little did we know."

She expressed anger that IRA bombers Thomas Begley and Sean Kelly "robbed" her of the opportunity to grieve the loss of her father, who founded the Golden Gloves Boxing Federation in the 1970s, and have left her family asking why for 25 years.

"I find Sean Kelly's lack of remorse impossible to understand - he wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for the people of the Shankill, they saved his life," she said, after it emerged that Kelly was pulled from the rubble by local rescuers who heard his cries for help.

Evelyn's uncle Charlie Butler (64) also stressed the importance of remembrance, regardless of how graphic. "This is shock and awe - but there's no other way to tell our story," he said.

Mr Butler choked back tears as he gazed upon a child's colouring book with the words "kiss and hugs" etched in crayon. "That was Michelle's," he said.

"She didn't want to leave the house that day but her mum promised her she could finish colouring in when they got home... but they never came home."

Belfast Telegraph

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